Story: Missouri Western Athletics
The architect of the greatest turnaround in college football history will be honored at Missouri Western State University. The Bill Snyder Pavilion will be dedicated on Thursday, July 12 on the west end of Craig Field at Spratt Memorial Stadium. Missouri Western’s Board of Governors unanimously approved naming the facility for Snyder, who has been head football coach at Kansas State University for 26 seasons and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015. Snyder was born and raised in St. Joseph and attended Missouri Western when it was St. Joseph Junior College in 1959.
“I am so very honored to be recognized in this manner by Missouri Western, the Board of Governors and Steven L. Craig,” Snyder said. “Very thoughtful and greatly appreciated. Although I only attended the school when it was St. Joseph Junior College and for only one year, it was truly the springboard and the foundation for the entirety of my undergraduate education and through my life-long career. My sincere gratitude to those mentioned above and to the entire caring community of St. Joseph which has also favorably impacted my life.”
The pavilion was built and donated by Steven L. Craig, the benefactor for whom Craig Field and the Craig School of Business at Missouri Western are named. It was Craig who initially proposed naming the pavilion for Snyder.
“I’m very honored to have played a small part in recognizing Coach Snyder. His work at Kansas State, in turning around that program, is one of the most remarkable coaching feats in the history of college football.” Craig said. “Coach Snyder has never forgotten his humble beginnings or his hometown, St. Joseph, and has continued to give back to this community over and over again.”
The pavilion features two different levels for hosting outdoor events, barbecue areas and an 80-foot flagpole displaying a 20-foot by 30-foot American flag. The pavilion will also feature a bronze plaque of Coach Snyder as well as a dedication to those who have served in our military.
“This addition to Spratt Stadium will further enhance the game day experience for our athletes, coaches, students and fans,” said Josh Looney, Missouri Western’s director of athletics. “It’s the finishing touch on one of the finest stadiums in NCAA Division II. We are appreciative of Steve Craig’s generous support to make this happen and honored that the pavilion will sport the name of one of the most iconic leaders in athletics and education.”
In 1989, Snyder took over a struggling Kansas State program that had just become the first Division I program to lose 500 games and had gone winless in two consecutive seasons. In a short time, he turned the Wildcats into a national championship contender that advanced to 11 straight bowl appearances and tallied six 11-win seasons over a seven-year stretch. He retired in 2005, but returned to the Kansas State sidelines in 2009, adding his seventh 11-win season and second conference championship in 2012. Overall, his record stands at 210-110-1 as he prepares for his 27th season at the helm.
Snyder was born and raised in St. Joseph, the son of Marionetta Snyder and grandson of George and Marie Owens. He graduated from Lafayette High School in 1958. Snyder began his full-time coaching career in 1964 as an assistant at Indio High School in California. In 1966 he served as a graduate assistant at USC, under legendary coach John McKay before becoming head coach at Indio High in 1967. He accepted the same position at Santa Ana Foothill High School in 1969, where he stayed until 1973.
In 1974, Snyder became the offensive coordinator and swimming coach at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He joined the North Texas staff in 1976 and helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround with a three-year record of 26-7. Snyder followed head coach Hayden Fry to Iowa in 1979, helping build a program that went from 17 consecutive losing seasons to eight straight bowl games.
Snyder is a member of eight Halls of Fame: the College Football Hall of Fame, Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, William Jewell Hall of Fame, Lafayette High School Hall of Fame, Austin College Athletic Hall of Fame, Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame and Kansas State Hall of Fame. He received Missouri Western’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014.
Snyder has also been active in many organizations, including Chairman of the Kansas Mentors Council and the Kansas Leadership Council, Board of Directors for Kansas Leadership Center, Board of Directors of Prairiefire Museum of Natural History, Board of Trustees for the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Terry C. Johnson Cancer Research Center Advisory Council, Manhattan Community Foundation Board of Trustees, Kansas State University Foundation Board of Trustees and Honorary Co-Chairman of the Kansas Masonic Partnership for Life.
Locally, Snyder has returned to St. Joseph many times for fundraisers and events supporting education and the YMCA.
Snyder was awarded the 2015 Excellence in Mentoring Award by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership in recognition of his longstanding commitment to meeting the mentoring needs of young people in Kansas.
After attending St. Joseph Junior College, Snyder received his B.A. from William Jewell in 1963. He earned his M.A. from Eastern New Mexico in 1965. Snyder and his wife, Sharon, have two sons and three daughters. They also have eight grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Details about the July 12 dedication ceremony featuring Snyder, Craig and other dignitaries will be announced at a later date.